The United Sates and its allies are trying to stop Iran form developing nuclear weapons through various means. The policies of engagement, containment and deterrence are being applied to achieve the objective but they are still unable to change Iranian behavior. It is an awkward dance between the US, Israel and Iran; between regional and global players. It indicates the decline of the US power in world affairs, as well as the success of asymmetrical tactics dealing with powerful actors in a conflict.
Though, the US has encircled Iran by giving security umbrella to the regional states and enhancing its military presence in the region. For instance, there are more than 5000 US troops in the broader Middle East region. Bahrain provides a home to US fifth fleet, with more than 20 ships. Qataris a major logistical hub for US. Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the most-trusted US allies in the region. But Iran has successfully exploited its proxies, and the US weaknesses to counter balance the threats. Thanks to the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan which toppled Iran’s foes and gave rise to its influence in the region. There is a need to scrutinize above mentioned US strategies and pitfalls inherited in these Policies.
The US wants to resolve Iranian issue through diplomatic channels, contrary to the Israeli insistence of preemptive strikes against Iran. Historically speaking, Iran always used negotiation-table as a time-gaining chip. For instance, in 2010, in ‘Tehran Declaration’ Iran agreed with Brazil and Turkey to stop its further enrichment but Iran has increased its Uranium stockpiles. Nothing was decided in Istanbul in January 2011 in P5+1 meeting with Iran. The dilemma with the policy of engagement lies in mistrust between the actors, particularly between US and Iran. Iran perceives that there would be zero-sum game played by the US and allies in any diplomatic engagement.
The policy of containment requires unified actions by the allied states. It includes military alliances, multilateral sanctions and deployment of forces. Though, U.S and EU imposed economic sanctions against Iran but the dilemma is that the regional states are not fully supporting these sanctions. For instance, China and India are major purchasers of Iranian gasoline oil and are not willing to stop the trade. As the economic power of the world is transforming from the West to the East, it would be not possible to isolate Iran form economic circle of the East for a longer time. As for the issues of collective defense and military deployments are concerned, there is a lot of pressure in the US to withdraw from overseas deployment. And Iran has successfully used its proxies, Shiite militant Diaspora in the Middle East, to pressurize the Middle Eastern States not to support any preemptive strike against Iran.Turkey’s vote against UN resolution in 2010 can be quoted as an example.
Regarding the US and Israel’s deterrence against Iran, it is very interesting that there is lot of difference between the U.S and Israel. The Israeli aggressive posture has always been countered by the US. The US does not perceive any direct threat from nuclear Iran. Therefore, it is determined to make a political solution of the problem. It does not declare red-lines to strengthen its deterrence. The US security assurance to its allies that it would give firm response if Iran attacks any of its allies makes no sense of rationality in real politic.
There are possibilities, as it is hinted in the IAEA report in 2011, that Iran is close to enrich Uranium at weapon grade level. If it does so, it will change the balance of power in the region, which would undermine American influence in the regional affairs. The US should avoid entangling itself physically in Iranian nuclear issue because Iran is different both from Afghanistan and Iraq. Successfully dealing with Iran is vital for the maintenance of US global posture in world affairs.